A subcontractor performing grain fire recovery work at MGP Ingredients escaped injury after corn poured out Friday morning from its storage area and engulfed him up to his shoulders.
Atchison Fire Chief Ted Graf said in a Friday interview that the man’s employer had been retained by MGP after a “hot spot” fire in the corn silo ruined some of its contents. The “hot spot” remains an issue inside the silo, but has been fully contained and poses no threat to anyone, Graf said.
The company, which Graf didn’t have information on, had the task of removing the salvageable grain from the silo and disposing of the rest, Graf said. During that work at about 9:30 a.m. Friday at the MGP complex at 1300 Main Street, the containment of the corn unexpectedly ruptured, quickly pouring bulk corn over the victim and engulfing him.
“Grain is a little unpredictable and it can be very dangerous,” Graf said. “It wants to follow the law of gravity, so when it is contained, and then suddenly isn’t, it wants to spill all over the place.”
MGP hasn’t yet been reached for comment on the incident.
The man’s co-workers began removing grain from the scene to free their colleague immediately, Graf said. He said MGP called the Atchison Fire Department, which responded with Atchison County EMS at around 10 a.m. Friday.
“When we got down there they had removed enough grain so that he was buried up to the mid-thigh area,” Graf said. “Our rescue efforts then helped get enough of it way to free him.”
The man suffered no apparent injury requiring medical attention and declined to be treated or transported from the scene, Graf said.
“He seemed to be OK. He had all of his safety equipment in place, which probably helped considerably,” Graf said. “The company had just gone through safety training with MGP, which is something they always do with their subcontractors.”
Graf has handled more serious grain engulfments before, and said the incident proved to be fortunate, as often times an engulfment can happen in a rural, private farm or inside of a grain silo. Significant injury becomes a serious possibility in those circumstances, Graf said.
“In my experience, our elevators in town are always aware of that risk and are keen to take the utmost safety precautions,” he said.
This story may be updated.